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Ian

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12

Tips on interview anxiety

Hello everyone,
I am asking for your best tips how to reduce anxiety before the interview. I recently had an interview that I did not do well, not because of my answers but because I looked very anxisious which is something you can not do in the front of the client. I am in a client facing business and this never happend to me but in case interviews it does. Especially for math parts, even though I am good at it. Any tips?

Thank you,
S

Hello everyone,
I am asking for your best tips how to reduce anxiety before the interview. I recently had an interview that I did not do well, not because of my answers but because I looked very anxisious which is something you can not do in the front of the client. I am in a client facing business and this never happend to me but in case interviews it does. Especially for math parts, even though I am good at it. Any tips?

Thank you,
S

12 answers

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Book a coaching with Ian

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Hi Sandro :)

1) Practice, practice, practice - just like playing an instrument, practice until it becomes second nature...then when you perform in front of an audience, muscle memory takes over from stage fright!

2) Practice with people who make you nervous - Don't keep casing yourself or casing with other PrepLoungers! You need to feel as nervous when practicing as you will in the real thing. To do so, you can do any (or all) of the following:

  • Ask for a buddy/case partner from target firms to which you're applying
  • Ask anyone you have a relationship with at your target firms to give you a practice case
  • Ask your school's career office to give you a case
  • Ask a coach to give you a case (and ask them to be tough/strict/non-friendly)
  • Still ask PrepLoungers to case you, but ask them to jump straight into it without conversation beforehand (i.e. simulate the real thing)
  • Change your enviroment - instead of casing at home, go to a library or office room. Changing the scenery may trigger you to be less relaxed

3) Practice with the unknown - ask people to give you "weird" cases. Ask people to throw everything they have at you (curveballs, confusing statements, etc.)...you'll get comfortable with tripping up (and recovering)

4) Practice fast math - You said you get nervous here...well, practice it until it's the easiest thing you've ever done! How? Use the following:

  • Online "Drills": https://www.jetpunk.com/quizzes/fast-math-multiplication-quiz
  • Math sheets (print these and do them on paper): https://www.math-drills.com/
  • https://www.rocketblocks.me/

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

There are also some excellent prior Q&As that I think you'll find useful (some old, but all still relevant):

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/be-less-hesitant-5224

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/whats-your-experience-with-tactical-stress-situations-during-the-interview-547

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/recovering-from-mistakes-in-interviews-218

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/coffee-chat-advice-super-nervous-3905

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-handle-nervousness-and-too-fasttoo-much-speaking-during-personal-fit-questions-556

Hi Sandro :)

1) Practice, practice, practice - just like playing an instrument, practice until it becomes second nature...then when you perform in front of an audience, muscle memory takes over from stage fright!

2) Practice with people who make you nervous - Don't keep casing yourself or casing with other PrepLoungers! You need to feel as nervous when practicing as you will in the real thing. To do so, you can do any (or all) of the following:

  • Ask for a buddy/case partner from target firms to which you're applying
  • Ask anyone you have a relationship with at your target firms to give you a practice case
  • Ask your school's career office to give you a case
  • Ask a coach to give you a case (and ask them to be tough/strict/non-friendly)
  • Still ask PrepLoungers to case you, but ask them to jump straight into it without conversation beforehand (i.e. simulate the real thing)
  • Change your enviroment - instead of casing at home, go to a library or office room. Changing the scenery may trigger you to be less relaxed

3) Practice with the unknown - ask people to give you "weird" cases. Ask people to throw everything they have at you (curveballs, confusing statements, etc.)...you'll get comfortable with tripping up (and recovering)

4) Practice fast math - You said you get nervous here...well, practice it until it's the easiest thing you've ever done! How? Use the following:

  • Online "Drills": https://www.jetpunk.com/quizzes/fast-math-multiplication-quiz
  • Math sheets (print these and do them on paper): https://www.math-drills.com/
  • https://www.rocketblocks.me/

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

There are also some excellent prior Q&As that I think you'll find useful (some old, but all still relevant):

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/be-less-hesitant-5224

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/whats-your-experience-with-tactical-stress-situations-during-the-interview-547

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/recovering-from-mistakes-in-interviews-218

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/coffee-chat-advice-super-nervous-3905

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-handle-nervousness-and-too-fasttoo-much-speaking-during-personal-fit-questions-556

Book a coaching with Robert

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Hi Sandro!

Well your situation is fully understandable, and to relieve a bit of stress for you I can tell you that many candidates (many more than who openly admit it!) face the same issue.

This is true for real-life interviews, but (maybe a bit surprinsingly) also true for mock interviews I am doing, especially for reality-check ones when I really start pushing - even if the mock interview has no real negative consequence for the coachee!

However, let me also tell you that interviewers try really hard to create a friendly atmosphere at the beginning of the interviewer. The McKinsey mindset is more in a way to see candidates in the best performing way possible, and that is usually by not freightening them too much. This does not mean that I won't do a kind of stress test for a limited period within my case, but not in general.

I see 2 points for you:

  • You don't have an offer yet from your target firm. So take it a bit more easy - you can only win, you have nothing really to loose at the moment. Even if you would like to switch, your current firm has high reputation as well, and even in case it would not work out, there are many other interesting firms looking for talent as well!
  • Based on my direct experience with a broad range of candidates, anxiety is to a large extent also caused by feeling insecure during the interviews. This has an emotional aspect in terms of not feeling as well prepared as you maybe should have been (e.g. spent too much time on Netflix than preparing, and you know it), as well as a factual aspect that candidates might not feel fully ready for a real-life case interview because they really are not on a top performance level yet.

Hope this helps - if so, please be so kind and give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

Hi Sandro!

Well your situation is fully understandable, and to relieve a bit of stress for you I can tell you that many candidates (many more than who openly admit it!) face the same issue.

This is true for real-life interviews, but (maybe a bit surprinsingly) also true for mock interviews I am doing, especially for reality-check ones when I really start pushing - even if the mock interview has no real negative consequence for the coachee!

However, let me also tell you that interviewers try really hard to create a friendly atmosphere at the beginning of the interviewer. The McKinsey mindset is more in a way to see candidates in the best performing way possible, and that is usually by not freightening them too much. This does not mean that I won't do a kind of stress test for a limited period within my case, but not in general.

I see 2 points for you:

  • You don't have an offer yet from your target firm. So take it a bit more easy - you can only win, you have nothing really to loose at the moment. Even if you would like to switch, your current firm has high reputation as well, and even in case it would not work out, there are many other interesting firms looking for talent as well!
  • Based on my direct experience with a broad range of candidates, anxiety is to a large extent also caused by feeling insecure during the interviews. This has an emotional aspect in terms of not feeling as well prepared as you maybe should have been (e.g. spent too much time on Netflix than preparing, and you know it), as well as a factual aspect that candidates might not feel fully ready for a real-life case interview because they really are not on a top performance level yet.

Hope this helps - if so, please be so kind and give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

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Hi Sandro,

I have a few tips here that can be helpful

1. Preparation will make you feel less stressed

If you know that you have done as much practice as possible with the right people and you have covered the most important types of cases, prepared your FIT well, you will feel more secure. Also make sure to practice with current consultants or ex-consultants (preplounge coaches, friends) who can simulate the real interview experience and give you a real assessment on where you stand. Once you know you can do well in this scenario you will feel much less anxiety on your interview day.

2. Change your mindset

See the interview as an opportunity to showcase all the hard work that you have put in to date and to bring forward your best. Instead of seeing the interview as somewhere, you can fail you want to approach it with a positive attitude and show how much you enjoy solving case interviews.

-A

Hi Sandro,

I have a few tips here that can be helpful

1. Preparation will make you feel less stressed

If you know that you have done as much practice as possible with the right people and you have covered the most important types of cases, prepared your FIT well, you will feel more secure. Also make sure to practice with current consultants or ex-consultants (preplounge coaches, friends) who can simulate the real interview experience and give you a real assessment on where you stand. Once you know you can do well in this scenario you will feel much less anxiety on your interview day.

2. Change your mindset

See the interview as an opportunity to showcase all the hard work that you have put in to date and to bring forward your best. Instead of seeing the interview as somewhere, you can fail you want to approach it with a positive attitude and show how much you enjoy solving case interviews.

-A

Book a coaching with Antonello

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Hi Sandro,
it is more than normal to be a bit more anxious than normal during interviews but you can work to control it. By properly simulating interviews, with correct timings and flows, during your preparation you can improve a lot in working under that kind of pressure

Best,
Antonello

Hi Sandro,
it is more than normal to be a bit more anxious than normal during interviews but you can work to control it. By properly simulating interviews, with correct timings and flows, during your preparation you can improve a lot in working under that kind of pressure

Best,
Antonello

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Hello Sandro,

The secret is to have some "checkpoints" that you can learn by heart and that can help you to reduce anxiety in the key moments.
For example you should develop and learn some general framework for each case typology. This can not be the answer to a specific business case, but knowing the 70% of the structure by heart will help you to calm down and focus your effort and mental energy on the 30% that you have to personalize for the specific case.

Best,
Luca

Hello Sandro,

The secret is to have some "checkpoints" that you can learn by heart and that can help you to reduce anxiety in the key moments.
For example you should develop and learn some general framework for each case typology. This can not be the answer to a specific business case, but knowing the 70% of the structure by heart will help you to calm down and focus your effort and mental energy on the 30% that you have to personalize for the specific case.

Best,
Luca

As a scientist, I suggest you try exposure therapy approach. The more interviews you have the less sensitive you will be. So try to have more interviews with firms that are not your primary target :)

As a scientist, I suggest you try exposure therapy approach. The more interviews you have the less sensitive you will be. So try to have more interviews with firms that are not your primary target :)

Book a coaching with Udayan

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Hi Sandro,

Sorry to hear about the anxiety - it happens to the best of us

Anxiety surfaces when you are present more in your thoughts and less in the situation/interviews. There are many resources to tackle it (meditation being the best in my opinion). At the end of the day if you are able to distance yourself from your thoughts and be present in the interview you will cease to be anxious

All the best,

Udayann

Hi Sandro,

Sorry to hear about the anxiety - it happens to the best of us

Anxiety surfaces when you are present more in your thoughts and less in the situation/interviews. There are many resources to tackle it (meditation being the best in my opinion). At the end of the day if you are able to distance yourself from your thoughts and be present in the interview you will cease to be anxious

All the best,

Udayann

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Hi Sandro,

it is really difficult to answer without seeing you “in action” in an interview, as there are multiple reasons why you may be perceived as anxious.

I listed below some tips.

First of all, you may want to work on your body language. Even if you are nervous, you don’t want to show that. You could work on the following:

  1. Sound of your voice. Monotone voice is one of the major elements of poor communication. Speaking fast is also another element that can give an impression of lack of confidence. If you have issues on this area I would suggest to listen to podcasts with great speakers for 30min – 1h per day with headphones. After some days you will start to speak in a similar way, as you will absorb their communication style.
  2. Smile. Smiling can be a powerful element to show you enjoy the interview (and interviewer) and are not afraid. You can force smiles (although not too much) in case you get feedback you are not doing that.
  3. Eye contact. You should not always look the interviewer in the eyes. But you should not look away when he/she asks you something (in particular in case you get questions such as “Why should I hire you”)
  4. Ability to break the ice. Confident people are not afraid to start small talks with interviewers from the beginning. Keeping silence creates less connection and may be considered a sign of lack of confidence
  5. Posture. Leaning too much towards the interviewer is also a sign of lack of confidence. You should keep a straight position most of the time.

You may also want to work on your mindset. The interview should be an opportunity to understand if you and the company are a mutually good fit and show the skills you practiced, not the only chance you have to change your career. This confidence comes only with practice.

Finally, you may want to exercise with people that put you in a situation of pressure. Possibly that was missing in your previous mocks.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

Hi Sandro,

it is really difficult to answer without seeing you “in action” in an interview, as there are multiple reasons why you may be perceived as anxious.

I listed below some tips.

First of all, you may want to work on your body language. Even if you are nervous, you don’t want to show that. You could work on the following:

  1. Sound of your voice. Monotone voice is one of the major elements of poor communication. Speaking fast is also another element that can give an impression of lack of confidence. If you have issues on this area I would suggest to listen to podcasts with great speakers for 30min – 1h per day with headphones. After some days you will start to speak in a similar way, as you will absorb their communication style.
  2. Smile. Smiling can be a powerful element to show you enjoy the interview (and interviewer) and are not afraid. You can force smiles (although not too much) in case you get feedback you are not doing that.
  3. Eye contact. You should not always look the interviewer in the eyes. But you should not look away when he/she asks you something (in particular in case you get questions such as “Why should I hire you”)
  4. Ability to break the ice. Confident people are not afraid to start small talks with interviewers from the beginning. Keeping silence creates less connection and may be considered a sign of lack of confidence
  5. Posture. Leaning too much towards the interviewer is also a sign of lack of confidence. You should keep a straight position most of the time.

You may also want to work on your mindset. The interview should be an opportunity to understand if you and the company are a mutually good fit and show the skills you practiced, not the only chance you have to change your career. This confidence comes only with practice.

Finally, you may want to exercise with people that put you in a situation of pressure. Possibly that was missing in your previous mocks.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

(edited)

Francesco, thank you for a great answer. I don't have a lot of problems with anxiety in an interview as it stimulates me in a positive way. However, thought your answer was really helpful. Do you have an advice for podcasts with great speakers? — Anonymous B on Jun 17, 2020

Hi there, glad you liked it. Everything which is sales related usually works well. Sales people are masters in great communication. I personally listen to just one podcast (Darren Hardy) but simply because I enjoy it – although he also has a good voice (he is a former salesman). You may also simply go for an audiobook. If you go on audible.com you can listen to samples before buying one and you can choose one that you like. Hope it helps! — Francesco on Jun 18, 2020 (edited)

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Hello!

Very understandable, I remember it being the same.

Thanks for sharing, since probably most people feel the same, but just don´t talk about it!

At the end, getting nervous is due to the fact that you care, that the interviews are really important for you!

Unfortunately, no magic trick further than practicing a lot.

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

Hello!

Very understandable, I remember it being the same.

Thanks for sharing, since probably most people feel the same, but just don´t talk about it!

At the end, getting nervous is due to the fact that you care, that the interviews are really important for you!

Unfortunately, no magic trick further than practicing a lot.

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

Hello,

1. Training a lot normally already reduces stress

2. It may be pretty basic advice, but consider it like a game, you don't put your life on the line and there is only upside

3. You can always ask specialist stress management coaches. There are real exercises (eg breathing) to manage stress well.

Best

Hello,

1. Training a lot normally already reduces stress

2. It may be pretty basic advice, but consider it like a game, you don't put your life on the line and there is only upside

3. You can always ask specialist stress management coaches. There are real exercises (eg breathing) to manage stress well.

Best

Book a coaching with Vlad

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Hi,

The only way to get rid of it is solving cases with current consultants or alums

Best

Hi,

The only way to get rid of it is solving cases with current consultants or alums

Best

I'm not a coach, but went through the interview process recently and got an offer with MBB, and happen to have terrible "test" anxiety so hopefully my tips can help you in addition to what everyon has already said (same as you, not anxious at all in real life or at work, but as soon as somehting is an exam I get stressed out)!

First, change your mindset: your interviewer WANTS you to succeed, they think you may be fit for the job based on your resume and hope they're correct. They don't come at it from a place of trying to see you fail, they really hope that you succeed. Think of it more like a discussion, not a test. If you're completely stuck, it's okay to admit it, but keep your cool and redirect yourself to your framework when needed. And remember that there's often more than one way to solve a case, more than one right answer. For the math, I reccommend slowing down. It's normal that you won't be as fast during an interview as when you're alone. It's better to be slightly slower and get the right answer than to hurry and get it wrong. Time usually seems longer than it actually is for your interviewer.

Also, if you're smart enough to get an interview, you probably have more than one option for your next step in your career. Not everything depends on this one interview being successful, so take some pressure off. Whatever happens, happens. You can't control everything, you can only do your best.

Before the interview, sit in your interview chair, close your eyes, and take 10 very long deep breaths, in through the nose out through the mouth. Then turn on your computer and go for it :)

I'm not a coach, but went through the interview process recently and got an offer with MBB, and happen to have terrible "test" anxiety so hopefully my tips can help you in addition to what everyon has already said (same as you, not anxious at all in real life or at work, but as soon as somehting is an exam I get stressed out)!

First, change your mindset: your interviewer WANTS you to succeed, they think you may be fit for the job based on your resume and hope they're correct. They don't come at it from a place of trying to see you fail, they really hope that you succeed. Think of it more like a discussion, not a test. If you're completely stuck, it's okay to admit it, but keep your cool and redirect yourself to your framework when needed. And remember that there's often more than one way to solve a case, more than one right answer. For the math, I reccommend slowing down. It's normal that you won't be as fast during an interview as when you're alone. It's better to be slightly slower and get the right answer than to hurry and get it wrong. Time usually seems longer than it actually is for your interviewer.

Also, if you're smart enough to get an interview, you probably have more than one option for your next step in your career. Not everything depends on this one interview being successful, so take some pressure off. Whatever happens, happens. You can't control everything, you can only do your best.

Before the interview, sit in your interview chair, close your eyes, and take 10 very long deep breaths, in through the nose out through the mouth. Then turn on your computer and go for it :)

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